Effect of Added Mass on Treadmill Performance and Pulmonary Function

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Walker, RE, Swain, DP, Ringleb, SI, and Colberg, SR. Effect of added mass on treadmill performance and pulmonary function. J Strength Cond Res 29(4): 882–888, 2015—Military personnel engage in strenuous physical activity and load carriage. This study evaluated the role of body mass and of added mass on aerobic performance (uphill treadmill exercise) and pulmonary function. Performance on a traditional unloaded run test (4.8 km) was compared with performance on loaded tasks. Subjects performed an outdoor 4.8-km run and 4 maximal treadmill tests wearing loads of 0, 10, 20, and 30 kg. Subjects' pulmonary function (forced expired volume in 1 second [FEV1], forced vital capacity [FVC], and maximal voluntary ventilation [MVV]) was tested with each load, and peak values of heart rate, oxygen consumption (


), ventilation (VE), and respiratory exchange ratio (RER) were measured during each treadmill test. Performance on the 4.8-km run was correlated with treadmill performance, measured as time to exhaustion (TTE), with the strength of the correlation decreasing with load (r = 0.87 for 0 kg to 0.76 for 30 kg). Body mass was not correlated with TTE, other than among men with the 30-kg load (r = 0.48). During treadmill exercise, all peak responses other than RER decreased with load. Pulmonary function measures (FEV1, FVC, and MVV) decreased with load. Body mass was poorly correlated with treadmill performance, but added mass decreased performance. The decreased performance may be in part because of decreased pulmonary function. Unloaded 4.8-km run performance was correlated to unloaded uphill treadmill performance, but less so as load increased. Therefore, traditional run tests may not be an effective means of evaluating aerobic performance for military field operations.

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